Management & Operations

Soubry Sets Sights on Taking New Flyer to the 'Next Level'

Posted on August 13, 2009 by Janna Starcic, Executive Editor

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[IMAGE]soubry.jpg[/IMAGE]Although Paul Soubry Jr. only took the reins as president/CEO of New Flyer Industries in late January, he's already off to a running start by implementing his "participatory" management style that includes communicating across the company, which he "enjoys" and says is critical for business success. He is also looking to draw from his experience as the CEO of aerospace company, StandardAero.

Janna Starcic: What strengths or past experiences do you draw from to be successful?

Paul Soubry Jr.: The things I think I can bring to New Flyer and our subsidiary companies are all in the area of facility optimization and control systems. Our company has grown quite dramatically over the last couple of years in terms of the sheer output, so there's a need to make our facilities and our cross control systems robust. We're investing in efficiency optimization.

What would you say your management style is?

I define it as very participative. To give you an example, what was [originally] referred to as 'corporate or executives,' I've re-branded as the executive leadership team - the ELT. There is far more involvement and accountability as a group as opposed to accountability to just one function and one department.

I do a lot of communicating, which I enjoy, and think is critical for business success. For example, we do a communication plan, and we've promoted a new company intranet for access to information. I'm also doing a weekly blog for employees.

Tell me about the company's operational excellence initiative?

I think when New Flyer started and what I continue to promote and be involved in are a number of initiatives that make it much more of a robust company. The primary focus up to this point has been on supply chain; everything from how we buy, how we manage and how we bring the material to New Flyer. The second area is customer program management; how we finalize work specs, how we conduct the work in the facilities, how we manage the programs and contracts, and so forth. Then we went after manufacturing and engineering; how that whole group of support engineers communicates in the shop.

The last area we are going after is the manufacturing facility, so the process of actually building, the efficiency, the tooling and the training. We're about a third of the way into the program, there's a macro time line of about 15 months.

How are you taking the company to the "next level"?

The next chapter is about making sure we deliver on our promises. So if that's the quality, if it's the styling that you need to enhance the bus, if that's delivering on schedule, if that's price performance, to be able to compete for different types of customers and so forth, I think there's far more profitability and return for our shareholders by focusing on how we do things rather than focusing on ridiculous amounts of volume and ramming it through the same 'machine.'

Discuss the company's environmental efforts and vision for sustainability?

Two aspects, one is clearly green propulsion and green technologies. Those kinds of things are a bigger and bigger offering for our customers. We're dealing with public agencies that are under tremendous government pressure to reduce greenhouse emissions, so we will continue to invest and collaborate with suppliers, partners and customers on how to [implement] the latest fuel-efficient green technology.

The other side of sustainability is something that we really just launched, and that's the whole internal piece. How we operate our facilities, how much energy we use to run them, the recycling of material, looking for sources of material that comes from recycled resources and so forth. We just branded and launched a whole new sustainability campaign internally that is an all encompassing thing. The purpose of the campaign was to get people to understand that every time we do something, it has an impact.

You've been quoted as saying your job is to make the company safer, more efficient and a great workplace. Explain how you intend to do this.

At the end of the day, you really have three constituents; employees, customers and shareholders. If we don't have happy, safe, well-trained employees, we're not going to make great products for our customer, and if you don't have happy customers, no one is going to invest in our business, so we won't have shareholders. My view is you have to almost think of it as a pie with three equal parts; you have to keep all three of those things in balance for the long term...I want the team to make decisions based on balancing employees, customers and shareholders and, so, any one decision may be a little bit rated to one or another of those elements. But it's long-term sustainability that counts. Long-term profitability, long-term career and job satisfaction comes from taking that holistic approach.

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